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Thu Jun 30, 2022, 10:22 AM

Inside the Rural Psychiatric Hospital Staff Call a '21st Century Asylum'

On the morning of April 14, at the Meadows Psychiatric Center in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania, a 28-year-old man named Thomas Birkl allegedly walked up to a mental health technician and punched her in the face.

Birkl had been “acting out and throwing food around the facility,” according to a police affidavit. While the woman was “cleaning up the mess [Birkl] had created,” he hit her “with a closed fist,” and then proceeded to hit her two more times in the head. When another worker tried to intervene, Birkl also hit that worker on her back and head, police alleged.

Birkl was arrested and charged with two counts of felony assault; both women were sent to the hospital with head injuries, and the second worker complained of numbness in her left arm.

A dozen current and former workers who spoke to VICE News said the incident was far from a one-off. Instead, they describe Meadows as a facility rife with violence directed at both workers and other patients, in poor condition, and providing less than the bare minimum of resources to patients.

“It’s like a 21st century asylum,” Jordan Zimmerman, a mental health technician who worked at Meadows from October 2021 until May, told VICE News. “Patients are telling me that they would be better off where they were, that this place is making them worse.”

https://www.vice.com/en/article/epzdmm/meadows-psychiatric-hospital-pennsylvania

Long, but worth the read. This is why NO health care should be outsourced to private entities.

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Reply Inside the Rural Psychiatric Hospital Staff Call a '21st Century Asylum' (Original post)
Jilly_in_VA Jun 2022 OP
dutch777 Jun 2022 #1
Jilly_in_VA Jun 2022 #3
2naSalit Jun 2022 #2

Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Thu Jun 30, 2022, 11:10 AM

1. Privatization doesn't help but there is a severe shortage of mental health workers & infrastructure

Having retired from a hospital administrative position, I can say that even in the wealthiest communities and states, the number of capable and well trained mental health workers is woefully inadequate. And while there is a robust and reasonably well organized system for routine and hospital medical care, there is almost nothing equivalent on the mental health side. If a hospital is impacted by a major influx of patients beyond it's capacity to respond, there is a network that helps by either bringing in more resources, or helping distribute cases to other facilities. We saw this in the pandemic, albeit with the system still highly taxed. But on the mental health side, while docs and social workers try to get mental health patients the type and quality of care they need, there is frequently a lack of beds, staff and alternate facilities to take them. It is not unusual for a patient to present at the ER, get his/her medical issue treated successfully, but then getting stuck there due to an underlying mental health issue, sometimes for weeks and even months. This is most acute for lower income and even many people that have insurance. Given mental health needs in the population that seem to be growing exponentially, fueled by broken families, illicit drugs and income inequality, the situation is only going to get worse.

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Response to dutch777 (Reply #1)

Thu Jun 30, 2022, 12:55 PM

3. One reason I can give you for that

is the PAY! It's pitiful. I know, I checked. Western State Hospital near here is still trying to recruit me, even though I'm 79 and I let my nursing license lapse last year! The salary schedule they quoted me was pathetic. I wouldn't consider it even if I were young and able-bodied, which I'm not.

The other reasons are working conditions (chronic understaffing, inattention to security and patient violence), the fact that many people don't like and aren't suited to psych nursing, and the biggie---that so many places really have NO interest in getting patients (no called "clients" well at all.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Thu Jun 30, 2022, 12:22 PM

2. Here's why...

Montana can be considered a shithole...

https://montanafreepress.org/2022/04/11/montana-state-psychiatric-hospital-to-lose-federal-funding/

The body-slammer, billionaire governor is all about privatizing what few state services we have and so is trying to kill those services to come full circle with his self-fulfilling prophecy. Shit, we can't have anything, really. The only social services in the state are federal programs that are mostly funded by the federal government. Anything else is a nonprofit.

He only wants millionaires and billionaires to live in Montana and he wants to sell our public lands and national parks to them too. None of them pay taxes so we can't have nice things.

So, in order to kill the only mental health hospital in the state's inventory, he's allowed it to fall into irreparable decline. It was already in trouble, for years, but this governor hammered the last nail into the coffin.

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